Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Harvest Fruits

Okay, so not my own harvest - the tomatoes and peppers are gone now. Still, the grapes and apples I bought from Bulk Natural Foods were someone's harvest, so it counts. I hadn't planned to purchase grapes and apples in the same order. In fact, I specifically chose NOT to purchase the apples. However, when someone else backed out of buying them, I wound up doing so.

First, let me talk about Concord grapes. Oh, my gosh! I never knew what a difference it makes what kind of grapes you use for jelly. I've done all kinds in the past, and even made it with my first graders from frozen grape juice. It all tasted fine to me! But let me tell you, there is a huge difference and now I know it. The Concord grapes I bought were not that great for eating. They were okay, tasty enough, but just not what I would consider normal eating grapes. The skins have an interesting flavor. That flavor is what makes them so perfect for jelly, or jam, I suppose.

The skins on the grapes split easily, and, faced with an entire box of them, I decided to simply pick out the dessicated ones (very few) and the one dead bee, rinse them and get rid of any tiny spider webs, and call it good. I filled the pot with about half the grapes, stems and all, squished them by pressing down on them with a pint jar, and let those boil down. I added about a cup of water to keep them from burning before enough juice could come out. Then I poured the juice that came off easily into a gallon glass jar, put the rest of the pot of now-smashed and drained grapes into the collander over a bowl, and waited for that to drain out. Then I did it all over again.

In the end, I had about 6.5-7 quarts of beautiful dark purple grape juice. I froze one of the gallon containers, shared some of the second one with my good friend, drank a couple of glasses (and was it ever good!) and now it's jelly making tomorrow.

Today, I went through the whole process with the apples. That corer/peeler/slicer I bought was used on these apples. It's magic! Sort of. I intended to simply toss out the peelings and the cores, but after doing that about 4-5 times, I could hear my grandmother's voice screaming in my head that it was a terrible waste, so after that, I tossed them in a couple of huge bowls instead.

When I'd made two batches of applesauce and a batch of apple slices, I took the skins and cores, and random odd pieces that had broken or had seed bits, and put them in the big pot to boil, just like I had done the grapes. The apples didn't yield as much juice - about half a gallon, but considering it came from throw-away food scraps (no, no, I don't mean I dug the ones out of the trash!), that's not so bad, is it?

So, tomorrow is jelly day. I'll get pictures and post them.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It's Fall!

Okay, not exactly officially yet, but that means harvest time! Though the berries are gone, the tomato plants dried up, the peaches finished, still there are things coming my way that will provide canning opportunities.

I will soon be ordering grapes and apples from Bulk Foods. I had a "warning" of what's coming yesterday, so now I'm waiting on pins and needles to see exactly what will be offered. LOL

I see grape jelly, applesauce, apple butter, apple cobbler, dehydrated apple rings, and many other good things in my future in October! Maybe pumpkin pie later in the month!

My apple corer is all set to go.

I've ordered one that is more massive-amounts friendly, and peels and slices the apple, too. This cast iron one which clamps onto the counter:

I think I can clamp it on the counter at the edge of the sink and drop all the sliced apples into a bowl in the sink. I'll keep you posted!